DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Fall snow, rains have ‘satisfied the drought debt’ in NorCal, climatologist says; CA will use aerial images to sharpen lens on water conservation; Modesto may hire lawyers to challenge Tuolomune River plan; and more …

In California water news today, Fall snow, rains have ‘satisfied the drought debt’ in Northern California, climatologist says; Northern California’s wet pattern to continue in December; California will use aerial images to sharpen lens on water conservation; Modesto may hire lawyers to challenge Tuolomune River plan; Merced critics get a jump on river flow hearing; California must pick up stormwater check; The drought doesn’t mean your HOA has to look like a wasteland; Six maps that show the anatomy of America’s vast infrastructure; and more …

In the news today …

Fall snow, rains have ‘satisfied the drought debt’ in Northern California, climatologist says:  “At Heavenly Ski Resort, thousands of feet up in the northern Sierra Nevada, the heavy snowfall around Lake Tahoe forced the lodge to close its small roller coaster due to poor visibility this week.  In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, concerns over dry conditions were quickly dispatched when more than two feet of snow dropped around the lake in just two days.  Now, if past weather patterns are fulfilled this year, experts say, Northern California’s winter — and long-term relief from years of drought — could be just around the corner for the state’s most important watershed. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Fall snow, rains have ‘satisfied the drought debt’ in Northern California, climatologist says

Northern California’s wet pattern to continue in December: The fast start to the rainy season in Northern and Central California has a good chance of continuing in December, long-range forecasters say.  The federal Climate Prediction Center foresees chances of wetter-than-average conditions in much of the Golden State through at least the middle of the month, and the whole month could produce above-average rainfall in far Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.  “The long-range outlooks are starting to advise that we could see a pattern change and go into a more stormy pattern,” said National Weather Service warning coordinator Michelle Mead, adding that a series of storms could begin around Dec. 8. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Northern California’s wet pattern to continue in December

California will use aerial images to sharpen lens on water conservation: California’s water regulators will start using aerial images to measure the green grass and irrigated landscapes of hundreds of communities across the state as part of a new long-term strategy to boost conservation.  The state has budgeted $3 million for a first-of-its-kind project analyzing high-resolution aerial images of 410 urban water suppliers’ areas throughout California. Data from those images, together with data on climate and other factors, will help state officials calculate new community-specific conservation targets for the coming years. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  California will use aerial images to sharpen lens on water conservation

Modesto may hire lawyers to challenge Tuolomune River plan: Modesto could hire a law firm for as much as $75,000 to help it respond to a state proposal to increase how much water flows down the Tuolumne River, leaving less for the city.  The City Council will consider on Tuesday hiring Sacramento-based firm Bartkiewicz, Kronick & Shanahan. It specializes in water rights and has worked for Modesto in the past. Modesto would pay the firm $57,300 for legal services through June 30 and up to an additional $17,700 if the firm’s services are needed beyond that date. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Modesto may hire lawyers to challenge Tuolomune River plan

Merced critics get a jump on river flow hearing:  “Dozens of Merced County people made a two-hour drive to Sacramento to get their three minutes before a state water board this week.  They could have waited until Dec. 19, when the board will hold a session in Merced on its proposed flow increases for our local rivers. But they wanted to make it clear from Tuesday’s start of the proceedings that they do not like the idea.  So they waited as the State Water Resources Control Board heard lengthy presentations by agency staffers and environmentalists who favor higher volumes on the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers. Just before noon, it was time for the general public to speak under the three-minute limit. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Merced critics get a jump on river flow hearing

California must pick up stormwater check:Local public agencies realized an important victory in a more-than-decade-long, who-should-foot-the-stormwater-bill battle — a battle focused on a permit issued by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to the County of Los Angeles and more than 80 local agencies, or “co-permittees.”  The lengthy battle was not over the requirements themselves or whether state agencies had the authority to issue them. At the crux of the conflict was the question: Who’s picking up the check?  The answer from the California Supreme Court — California — is welcome news to local agencies. … ”  Read more from Public CEO here:  California must pick up stormwater check

The drought doesn’t mean your HOA has to look like a wasteland: Question: Our homeowner association near Santa Clarita has a problem that most of the other associations around us don’t seem to share. Our association board appears to go out of its way not to approve drought-resistant landscaping or makes it difficult for owners to pick out plants. Several dozen of our 500 or so homeowners have stopped watering because of the drought. Trees, shrubs and lawns are completely dead. Most of the dead grass has even disappeared and all that is left at many properties is just dirt.  When it gets windy the dust and dead grass go everywhere. If it should rain, mud flows down driveways and sidewalks. We look like a wasteland. It drags down the whole community. Our board says it can’t do anything because California state law says boards can’t require owners to water. What are we supposed to do? … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  The drought doesn’t mean your HOA has to look like a wasteland

Six maps that show the anatomy of America’s vast infrastructure:  “President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to invest about $550 billion in new infrastructure projects across the country was a central theme in his campaign. “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it,” Trump said. Details are still murky, but it appears that the plan will rely on tax credits to spur private investment.  The maps you are about to see show the massive scope of America’s infrastructure using data from OpenStreetMap and various government sources. They provide a glimpse into where that half-trillion dollars may be invested. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  Six maps that show the anatomy of America’s vast infrastructure

In commentary today …

Temperance Flat Dam is the lynchpin of the Valley’s water future.  It must be built, says the Fresno Bee:  They write, “One of the primary reasons for building Friant Dam has been dropped from the discussion over time.  Yes, it was constructed to send San Joaquin River water south for farm irrigation and boost the economy. Gov. Earl Warren declared at the dam’s dedication in 1949 that it would help the Valley “become a modern Eden.”  And, yes, its 319-foot tall concrete wall was constructed to reduce flooding. Before Friant was built and the Metropolitan Flood Control District was formed, floods were a fact of life in Fresno. Largely forgotten is that Friant also was built to reverse the serious groundwater overdraft that was occurring on the Valley’s east side. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Temperance Flat Dam is the lynchpin of the Valley’s water future.  It must be built

Column:  The Trump victory, the threat to California’s greatest natural resource, and the new urgency for a strong Coastal Commission:  “All summer long, I celebrated the California coast, marking the 40-year anniversary of protections built into the Coastal Act.  Now winter is coming on, and I’m scared of what could happen to the greatest 1,100-mile beach on  the planet.  We have a president-elect who said he’d like to bulldoze the Environmental Protection Agency, thinks global warming is a fairy tale, and has surrounded himself with knuckle-draggers who would frack in marine sanctuaries and drill in Yosemite if they could get away with it.  “I think California’s clean-coast economy is hanging on by a thread right now,” said Ocean Foundation senior fellow Richard Charter, who has worked for decades to protect coastal waters from offshore oil and gas drilling. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Column:  The Trump victory, the threat to California’s greatest natural resource, and the new urgency for a strong Coastal Commission

In regional news and commentary today …

Chinook, coho runs continue in Siskiyou:  “As December gets underway, Chinook and coho salmon continue to trickle into Siskiyou County rivers and streams for the annual spawning period.  California Department of Fish and Wildlife data show smaller returns this year across the three major Klamath River tributaries where counting stations are set up.  On the Shasta River, 2,897 Chinook salmon had been counted as of Nov. 18. Last year, the final Chinook was counted in mid-December, and a total of 6,745 were counted on the Shasta. ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Chinook, coho runs continue in Siskiyou

Drought recovery hard to identify as Butte County leaders crunch numbers:  “Drought is sneaky. You don’t know if you’re in a drought until you’re in the middle of a dry spell, and you don’t know if the drought is over until it’s really gone.  That’s the place where members of the Drought Task Force found themselves as they poured over charts and statistics Thursday.  For the water year that ended Sept. 30, rain totals were 116 percent of average, but snowpack was under 90 percent, explained Paul Gosselin, Butte County’s director of the Department of Water and Resource Conservation. That’s certainly better than the past several years. Yet, Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016 remained a below normal water year. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Drought recovery hard to identify as Butte County leaders crunch numbers

Early rain caused concern for Butte County rice farmers:  “The Butte County Farm Bureau has been working to protect agriculture’s interests since 1917, thanks in large part to the continued hard work of their members. With continued support, the Bureau is able to advocate for growers on important issues in the community and fund educational opportunities.  Colleen Cecil, executive director of the Bureau, observed the rice harvest looks strong for Butte County rice growers, but a weather-related issue caused a bit of a problem during harvest. “We had some wet weather and then we had a break. Then it was, ‘Hurry up and get it done before the next storm comes in,’” said Cecil.  While the weather was an issue for growers, its impact was minimal. “There was a percentage, somewhere in the teens likely, of rice that was still left out in the field after the last wet weather event [in which] we just got pounded with rain,” Cecil noted. ... ”  Read more from California Ag Today here:  Early rain caused concern for Butte County rice farmers

Yuba-Sutter officials look to stay ahead of tree mortality sweeping the state: The five-year drought in California has killed millions of trees throughout the state. While Yuba County’s foothills aren’t in a state of emergency, officials are working to prevent and combat tree mortality.  “This is a huge problem; tree mortality is significant,” said Cal Fire Nevada-Yuba-Placer forester Steve Garcia. Tree mortality is a problem in varying degrees throughout the state and is the result of issues such as the drought, bark beetle infestation and improper care of properties, Garcia said. Dead or dying trees can cause major damage to infrastructure, especially roads. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Yuba-Sutter officials look to stay ahead of tree mortality sweeping the state

Slideshow: Net-zero Silicon Valley office building prioritizes water conservation:  “A Silicon Valley office building that produces all the energy it needs on-site is a leading example of smarter, water-efficient architecture in drought-stricken California. The net-zero energy building, called Hanover Page Mill, was designed by Form4 Architecture to use significantly less water than comparable buildings thanks to low-flow fixtures, water-efficient irrigation systems, and native drought-tolerant plantings. Completed this year, the LEED Platinum-certified building was just awarded the LEAF Award in the Best Sustainable Development category.”  Click here to view the slideshow from Inhabitant

Water quality board cracks down on Sequoia-Kings – for the second time:  “A whistleblower’s complaint to state regulators about wastewater treatment plants at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks has prompted the state to again order park management to clean up its act.  The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued the notice of violation last month. This is the second notice this year.  The new notice involves the wastewater treatment facility at Grant Grove and orders the parks to allow only employees familiar with the operation of the plant to fill out self-monitoring reports required by the state. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Water quality board cracks down on Sequoia-Kings – for the second time

Desalination in Ventura County called solution for future:  “Ventura County could someday get a portion of its drinking water from the ocean, but it’s a solution for the next drought, not this one.  That was the consensus of a panel of experts on seawater desalination who were at a forum convened Thursday evening by Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett. Bennett, who represents the Ventura and Ojai areas and part of Oxnard, said he put the event together because his constituents have been asking more and more about the possibility of treating ocean water. The forum drew more than 150 people to the Ventura County Government Center in Ventura, filling the Board of Supervisors’ hearing room nearly to capacity. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Desalination in Ventura County called solution for future

D.A. sues to remove Maywood councilman from water board seat:  “Los Angeles County prosecutors filed a lawsuit this week to remove Maywood City Councilman Sergio Calderon from a regional water board, claiming both offices are a conflict of interest and violate state law.  Calderon, 40, is a board member of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California and oversees a division that includes southeast L.A. County cities, including  Maywood.  … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  D.A. sues to remove Maywood councilman from water board seat

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About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.

 

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